Plaintiffs files a civil lawsuit against Cumberland Hospital over claims of sexual abuse.
Twenty former patients of New Kent County’s Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents have filed a civil suit in Richmond Circuit Court seeking $127 million in damages and alleging sexual abuse, physical assaults and attempts to deceive public and state health officials. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege the former medical director “inappropriately touched young female patients during routine medical exams.” The hospital is also accused of allowing “employees and fellow patients physically strike or sexually abuse other residents.” The abuse occurred over the course of twelve years.
Cumberland Hospital for Children and Adolescents is a residential treatment center and hospital with about 110 beds. According to the civil suit, “Cumberland is a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS)), which owns behavioral health facilities and acute care hospitals throughout the U.S., including several in Virginia.” The hospital extends its services “to children and young adults with complex behavioral issues, eating disorders, diabetes, chronic illness, neurobehavioral issues and brain injuries.”
Victims in the litigation range in age from 10-26 and reside in 13 stats. The complaint suggests they suffered “including long-term pain, PTSD, humiliation, depression, sleep disorders and bodily injuries.” Defendants include Cumberland Hospital, UHS, Dr. Daniel N. Davidow of Henrico County, the hospital’s former medical director and Herschel C. Harden III, a former psychotherapist.
“The defendants operated an unsafe facility that subjected the patients, including the plaintiffs, to constant threats to their basic safety, devoid of fundamental sanitation or humanity,” the plaintiffs state and further allege, “The defendants maintained inadequate staffing to reduce costs and maximize profits.” From 2006 to 2016, the lawsuit reads, “facilities owned and operated by UHS were cited or investigated for inadequate staffing violations on approximately 90 occasions, including Cumberland Hospital on at least one occasion.”
The civil suit also suggests, “UHS and Cumberland had inadequate staff to oversee its operation and therefore failed to protect the health and safety of patients. Eleven female patients reported that Davidow sexually abused them in a similar manner…A graduate student working at Cumberland in 2017 told New Kent County Social Services that five female patients at Cumberland were victims of sexual abuse by Davidow.”
“We have heard from children and parents that when no parent or other advocate was in the room, Dr. Davidow would say he needed to feel the female patients’ femoral pulse, located on their upper inner thighs, and he did so with the knowledge of some staff,” said Kevin Biniazan, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “Dr. Davidow would then place his hands beneath female patients’ undergarments and sexually abuse them by intentionally touching their intimate parts. Our experts in pediatrics say checking a girl’s femoral pulse is completely unnecessary. We were also told that Dr. Davidow only checked the pulses of male patients on their wrists.”
Virginia State Police is conducting a criminal investigation and a grand jury has indicted Harden on two counts of object sexual penetration by force, according to court records. He is set to go to trial in February 2021.
“It is clear from the statements of our plaintiffs that Cumberland Hospital, UHS, Dr. Davidow and Mr. Harden placed profits over the health and safety of patients, robbed vulnerable young girls of their innocence and potentially harmed them psychologically for life,” Biniazan said. “These defendants can never undo the harm they’ve caused to our clients, but this lawsuit seeks accountability and a financial recovery that we hope will, in some way, make up for what they’ve suffered.”